The annual collection of steelhead eggs at the Little Manistee River weir in Stronach (Manistee County), Michigan, is now underway, weather permitting.
Since 1968, the Little Manistee River weir has served as the sole source of winter-run steelhead eggs for fish hatcheries in Michigan and the main source for Ohio and Indiana. Yearling steelhead produced through hatchery operations are stocked in select tributaries of all the Great Lakes.
Steelhead provide one of Michigan’s premier sport fishing opportunities for both Great Lakes open water and tributary stream fishing.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources egg-take operations begin with the lowering of the weir grates by mid-March. This stops the upstream steelhead migration in the Little Manistee River and diverts the fish into holding ponds. Fish usually ripen during the month of April and egg-take operations begin, continuing until the established egg quota has been reached.
During egg-take operations, unripe or “green” steelhead are held in maturation ponds or counted and passed upstream to sustain the wild Little Manistee River steelhead run. Steelhead that are spawned during operations also are passed upstream, and many eventually return to Lake Michigan, as this species is capable of spawning multiple times. Once the quota of eggs is reached, the weir grates are removed and all remaining fish are allowed to migrate upstream.
To maintain effective social distancing and allow fisheries staff to safely and efficiently collect eggs, the DNR facility will not be open for public viewing this year. The parking area, the viewing platform below the weir and all areas outside the fenced-in grounds will remain open to the public.
To check on the status of the egg-take schedule, call the Little Manistee weir hotline at 231-775-9727, ext. 6072.
Learn more about DNR fish hatcheries and weirs at Michigan.gov/Hatcheries.